NBI busts another scam victimizing mall workersBy Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Another investment scam has been uncovered.
Weeks before the P12-billion investment scam of Aman Futures was exposed, hundreds of employees of a popular mall chain in Metro Manila were reported to have been victimized using the same double-your-money-scheme, the National Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday.
A suspect in the investment scam, Imelda Labadia, also known as Imelda Lomido, was arrested in an entrapment operation Tuesday morning in her house at Signal Village in Taguig City, the NBI said.
Special agent Gary Ruiz, NBI National Capital Region officer on case, said the house of Lomido served as her office where all cash transactions took place.
“Based on the sworn statements of the victims, in one mall outlet alone, she victimized 300 employees and some of them even hold managerial and supervisory positions,” Ruiz said.
He added that money received by Lomido from employees of the mall alone “could reach P30 million.”
The victims started filing their complaints last month after Lomido’s remittance had fallen behind, the NBI agent said.
Melissa, not her real name, one of those who filed a complaint in the NBI, said she was lured into investing in Lomido’s scheme because she had seen her officemates enjoy their profits.
“I envied my officemates who were able to buy expensive cell phones and clothes with the interest of the money they entrusted to Lomido,” Melissa said.
She said Lomido promised her a weekly interest of 15 percent for her P300,000 investment.
“It was money borrowed from relatives and friends, my hard earned savings and salary,” Melissa said.
Melissa, a supermarket cashier, did not reveal her real name for fear that she would be sanctioned by the mall management for talking to the media.
She said the matter had reached the mall management, which has ordered employees to stop transacting with Lomido.
“We were ordered to stop dealing with Lomido and in the event this reach the media, not to drag the name of the company to the controversy. Otherwise we will be fired,” Melissa said.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Lomido denied she ran away with the investors’ money.
She said the mall employees entrusted their money to her voluntarily. “They would go to my house and ask me if I could invest their money for them,” Lomido said.
She said the money she received was lent “to market vendors with an interest of 20 percent a month.”
Several ledgers where Lomido recorded the transactions are now in the possession of the NBI, according to Ruiz.
“We have recovered several ledgers and notebooks which detail her transactions,” Ruiz said.
“It’s very crude. Lomido will not issue an acknowledgment receipt but show the investor a notebook where the investment is being recorded,” he said.
Also found in the house of Lomido were small envelopes bearing names of the investors and the amount they were supposed to receive.
Multiple estafa cases will be filed against Lomido, according to Ruiz.
He said the NBI was looking for Lomido’s partner Ricky Fontillas.
Vendors in Divisoria, Manila, were among the 15,000 victims of Aman Futures.
A life better than selling counterfeit watches and bags on the streets of Divisoria enticed Noraida to invest in Aman Futures.
“We dreamt of finally being able to afford the required deposit and capitalization for a proper store from the interest we would get from the money we invested in Aman,” the victim said.
Noraida was among nine vendors from Divisoria who went to the NBI yesterday to file a complaint against Aman Futures.
She said that she found out about the big interest offered by Aman through their relatives in Mindanao.
“We communicate through cell phones and we were told how our friends and neighbors’ lives had changed because of their investment with Aman,” Noraida said.
She said she gave Aman a total of P250,000 on Sept. 26 and was supposed to receive her gains on Oct 12.
Documents Noraida submitted to the NBI showed that Aman Futures deducted a certain amount from interest income for tax purposes.
“There’s no processing fee, but taxes for interest money were collected,” Noraida said.
She added that apart from losing the money she feared for her life.
“We could be killed by our creditors if we could not give back their money. They might not believe us that we invested the money in Aman and we were swindled,” Noraida said.
“Now we are back on the streets and we don’t know if we can still recover the money,” she said.